When anchor man Nemanja Matic was signed by Chelsea in the winter of 2014 for £21 million from Benfica, he was hailed as the defensive shield the West London club had lacked for years since the retirement of French man Claude Makelele in 2008.
It was surprising that Matic was a reserve player for Chelsea making just two league appearances before he was used in a swap deal involving David Luiz in 2011. Matic had left for Benfica as a playmaker but was converted to a defensive midfielder to replace or partner either Axel Witsel or Javi Garcia in a 4-2-3-1 formation at the club.
Matic was the vocal point of Chelsea when he returned and partnered Spanish playmaker Cesc Fabregas in his full season as Chelsea won the double under Jose Mourinho. With Matic in the team, the defence was rarely troubled as his tackling, interceptions and physicality was top notch making him the best defensive midfielder of the Premiership in his first full season (2014/2015).
Fast-forward to the 2015/2016 and one will find out that Matic became a shadow of himself, unable to tackle and lose possession unnecessarily. In a Chelsea team that failed to hit the heights and had many Chelsea players under perform, Matic was the chief protagonist of those who flopped.
The player was needlessly slow and when paired with Nigerian John Mikel Obi became the slowest midfield in the league. The player showed a lack of confidence and was once withdrawn after he was brought on in the second half for Ramires, thus having a 22 minute cameo in the game against Southampton at Saint Mary’s.
Matic made 35 starts and 8 substitute appearances in all competitions for the Blues which was so abysmal that it was surprising that youngster Loftus Cheek was not allowed more game time even when Matic continued to falter.
The defensive midfielder still has three years to run in his contract and at 27, is at his peak. Though he may have under performed he should be given a second chance to show why Chelsea splashed out such cash for a 25-year -old in 2014. Although betting sites and online sportsbook are beginning to take bets on Matic leaving Chelsea, which is an indication that the bookmakers thing there is a chance he could leave.
However, I strongly believe Chelsea are better off letting John Obi Mikel to leave the club but certainly not Matic. Matic might have lost form last season, but I strongly believe he will come back and strongly. Selling Matic will make little to no sense and it will be much more expensive to replace him.